Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo says he was surprised by how much Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas struggled for pace during Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix, having battled together throughout the race.
Ricciardo passed Bottas at the start and stayed ahead of him until the safety car period and subsequent pit stops, when they swapped positions.
He then followed the Mercedes for the rest of the race, eventually finishing right behind it in sixth place.
Bottas later reported a handling issue, with the car proving especially difficult in right handers.
“Valtteri didn’t look particularly quick for their, let’s say, normalcy,” said Ricciardo.
“Today in the first stint I got him on lap one, and then I expected him to come back by me pretty soon after, and he didn’t.
“And I think at some point I was actually pulling away.
“I know we haven’t been slow this weekend. But of course, we’re also not a Mercedes at the moment.
“So I was a little bit surprised.
“And then on the second stint, he had track position on me, and I did feel he definitely made a few errors into Ascari, the left, so turn 8 into 9 a few times.
“But to be honest that was a place where I was struggling as well, so I couldn’t really capitalise, but I could see he struggled a little bit there.
“But otherwise he obviously couldn’t put it on Lando [Norris], so it’s fair to say he didn’t he didn’t show the pace that Mercedes are normally showing but, it was hard for me to probably distinguish if he was struggling a lot more in left or right corners.
“It just didn’t look like he had massive pace again for a Mercedes.
Ricciardo explained that the safety car and red flag did not go Renault’s way given that AlphaTauri won with Pierre Gasly, and a Racing Point and both McLarens also finished ahead.
When asked by Autosport if it was a race he had enjoyed, Ricciardo said: “I certainly enjoyed the race, I felt I put myself in the best position at most given times.
“But the circumstances with us. I wasn’t the only one, so I don’t want to jump up and down and cry.
“But sure I was one of them who suffered a bit with the safety car and red flag.
“So it’s one of those ones like maybe what could have been, but at the end of the day this is racing, and we can’t dwell on that and have our heads down.”
“Getting a sixth and an eighth with Esteban [Ocon] and obviously still losing quite a bit of points in constructors’, I think that obviously hurts a team because normally that’s a good weekend.
“But again, we have to just accept that luck wasn’t on our side today. And that’s that’s that.”